Friday, February 29, 2008

Governor Napolitano establishes Centennial Commission

[Source: Office of Governor Janet Napolitano] -- Governor Janet Napolitano today established the Arizona Centennial Commission (AZCC), by executive order, and charged it with planning a yearlong celebration of Arizona’s 100th birthday, culminating on February 14, 2012. AZCC will collaborate with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission (AHAC) to create a greater awareness of the vibrant culture, heritage and beauty of the Grand Canyon State to residents and visitors. “This is a time like no other in Arizona’s history,” said Governor Napolitano. “The establishment of this Commission enables us to showcase the state’s growth and development from frontier beginnings to 21st century innovation.” AZCC will develop a master plan that contains five major components:

  • Generating awareness and engagement by providing a sense of unity and pride among residents.
  • Developing participation programs which include a robust yearlong calendar of activities to celebrate the Centennial.
  • Implementing educational programs that focus on the state’s past, present, and future.
  • Collaborating with AHAC on legacy projects, such as working with communities to highlight their unique historical value.
  • Establishing avenues for resources and funding to encourage and support planning at the state and local level for major events and activities.

The Commission will also consist of a cross-section of Arizona business leaders, elected officials and local community historians. Within the coming weeks, Governor Napolitano will be releasing the names of the commissioners.

Tucson Expo begins monthlong archaeology festivities

[Source: John Stanley, Arizona Republic] -- March is Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month. Can you dig it? The month kicks off with an Archaeology Expo this weekend at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson and continues with open houses, interpretive hikes and programs for kids. Nearly three dozen Native American, archaeological and historical organizations, as well as several state and federal agencies, will have booths and displays at the Archaeology Expo, sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona State Parks and the Governor's Archaeology Advisory Commission.

Programs at the two-day expo will demonstrate the techniques prehistoric Native Americans used to thrive in the harsh environment of the desert Southwest. Between demonstrations, visitors can enjoy Native American entertainers, tour prehistoric and historic sites, watch living-history re-enactors, play games, take part in interactive activities and sample ethnic foods. Visitors receive free raffle tickets for archaeology-related prizes. The free expo is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1013 E. University Blvd., Tucson. Click here for more information, or call 520-621-6302. For a list of more Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month events, click here.

Starving our parks

[Source: Arizona Republic] -- Watch out! Falling plaster! Arizona's state parks are literally crumbling. Chunks of plaster are coming off the walls at Douglas Mansion in Jerome. Parts of the sidewalk around the historic building are closed off to protect the public. The Legislature slashed park spending and raided the capital funds in the budget crisis of 2002. The money wasn't restored when revenues were rolling in. Arizona State Parks, with jewels that range from the underground wonders of Kartchner Caverns to the scenic and recreational pleasures of Picacho Peak (pictured), has an operating budget of $26 million - about $4 per Arizonan. Now, with the state facing a massive shortfall, the legislative budget proposal would slash park spending further. On top of that, there's a breathtakingly illogical proposal to cut park fees. Senate Bill 1458 would shrink the cost of an annual pass by 20 percent for Arizona residents. It passed the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs on a 4-3 vote.

The standard annual pass is $50, and it covers up to four adults in the same vehicle. It's good for any state park any day, except for the Colorado River parks on weekends and holidays. The premium pass, $125, is valid everywhere at anytime. It's a price signal that any economist would embrace, encouraging use of the mobbed river parks on weekdays. And compared with the cost of other types of recreation, the park pass is a smoking deal. Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, says he introduced the bill because his constituents complain that they already support state parks through taxes. Except they don't. Lawmakers haven't raised the operating budget for parks in six years. The price of gasoline and utilities has gone up so much that state parks sought supplemental funding of $500,000 to pay the bills. The department has been forced to tap the State Lake Improvement Fund, which gets the share of gas tax attributable to boating, to pay for $3.1 million in expenses. Senate Bill 1110 would strip that authority.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Ron Niebrugge.]

Thursday, February 28, 2008

March is Arizona archaeology and heritage awareness month

[Source: Doug Kreutz, Daily Star] -- We live in a state with deep, dramatic human roots — and Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month offers an opportunity to connect with people of the distant past. Events throughout March range from a two-day Archaeology Expo in Tucson to lectures and tours of historic sites around the state. “The Archaeology Expo provides an opportunity for the public to interact with archaeologists, learn about the archaeology of Arizona and help promote the preservation of Arizona’s past,” said Carol Griffith, deputy state historic preservation officer. “There will be numerous exhibits, hands-on activities for adults and children, and tours of local prehistoric and historic archaeological sites.” Look for detailed information on the Expo and two other events in the Tucson area on the Arizona State Parks website.

Meeting on Phoenix's Hotel Westward Ho

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- City of Phoenix Historic Preservation staff met with the owners of the Hotel Westward Ho to discuss the possibility of removing the 1949 radio tower from the roof of the building. The HP Office supports the removal of the tower, and is encouraging the owner to also complete other work to return the building to its historic 1948 appearance. This would include the removal of 1949 penthouse (north and south) additions, re-activating the rooftop neon signage, and restoring the southern Moorish street entry. The owners also discussed possible changes to the south and east storefronts to add new retail uses to serve downtown users. Further analysis of options and costs are underway by the building owner and architectural team. Because the building’s recent rehabilitation for elderly housing had federal involvement, including a historic preservation tax credit, the scope of work also will require state approvals.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prescott landscape architect’s design to honor Navajo Code Talkers

[Source: Native American Times] -- What makes memorial art monumental isn’t bronze, marble or eternal flames. It’s the power it has to evoke fitting remembrance of those it venerates. How to do this for Arizona Navajo Code Talkers whose unbreakable military code helped secure United States victory in some of World War II’s most famous battles? And how to do it with landscape? These were the questions Landscape Architect Barnabas Kane pondered when he sat down to design the landscape portion of the Navajo Code Talkers Monument, a state memorial project scheduled to be erected in downtown Phoenix Feb. 28.

Kane’s project aims to honor the Arizonans among more than 400 Navajo code talkers who developed the code and used it to transmit orders, troop movements and military tactics in every US Marine Corps assault in the war’s Pacific theater between 1942 and 1945, including Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. They based the code on the highly symbolic spoken Navajo language, to which they added encrypted vocabulary that made the code one of the only ones skilled Japanese code-breakers never demystified. The Navajo Code Talkers Monument, a project approved by the state legislature in 2003, is to be placed in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, part of the State Capital complex that’s home to similar memorials for state and national historic figures. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Is Sedona putting all of its eggs in one basket? (op-ed)

[Source:] -- Sedona’s current Mayor “Pud” Colquitt, who is vying for reelection, proudly lists the following as one of the City Council’s major accomplishments during her term as Mayor: “...the Heritage Grant funding threatened with the failure of the original Cultural Park by negotiating to transfer funds to the Barbara Antonsen Park and the Creekwalk projects" (Sedona Verde Valley Times, Volume 1, Issue 4, February 2008). She neglects to mention that as of this date, such a feat has not been accomplished, or that her campaign treasurer and former Community Services Director is a major spokesperson for the “Friends of the Posse Grounds Park, Inc.” (the “Friends”). This group is a City selected non-profit organization leading the effort to put a performance venue in the almost entirely recreational Posse Grounds Park. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, February 25, 2008

Future Tucson park site yields old pottery, marbles, glass

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- A 7-foot-tall rock and concrete shrine with no names attached has stood on a vacant lot at 18th Street and Convent Avenue for more than 20 years. Longtime barrio residents know well this homemade shrine to Santa Teresa commemorates Diego and Orlando Mendoza, two toddlers, aged 17 months and 2 1/2 years, killed at the intersection in 1981 by a drunken driver. The names will come to the forefront as the city builds El Parque de Diego y Orlando Mendoza on the 9,235 square feet (about 100 by 90 feet) around the shrine. The shrine has been the lot's only defining feature since it went up in 1984, but archaeologists in the past two weeks uncovered multiple layers of history stretching from the 1880s to the 1930s.

The last buildings at the corner were apparently torn down in the 1970s, said Barbara Montgomery, principal investigator of Tierra Right of Way Services. Tierra's dig is a required first step before the Tucson Parks & Recreation Department can start design work on a small neighborhood park that will likely have a paved walk, trees and shrubs, said Kevin McElheny, landscape architect and project manager at the department. Once Tierra gives clearance for construction, the city department will start design work with hopes to start building the park in fall and opening it by the end of the year, McElheny said. All city projects have to go through a cultural resource compliance process to determine if a given site is historically significant, said Jonathan Mabry,the city's new historic preservation officer. Montgomery said Tierra Right of Way will clear the Mendoza lot for reuse as a park, which may be the third or fourth generation of development on the site since the 1880s-1890s foundations uncovered in the current dig. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Bisbee Foundation accepting grant applications

[Source: Shar Porier, Herald/Review] -- The Bisbee Foundation has begun its 2008 grant cycle and is asking that area organizations, students and individuals file scholarship and grant applications by the deadline of April 1. Doug Dunn, member of the foundation’s board, said the grants are available to support Bisbee organizations or individuals in the arts or humanities or to assist in historic preservation. Funded programs must be open and accessible to local citizens. The grant categories include special projects, general operating support, technical assistance and mini-grants. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded this year. “The Dan Davies Scholarship will go to a student seeking a degree in the arts or humanities at an accredited college or university. The second scholarship, established in the memory of Bisbee artist John Heshmati, is to be used in the pursuit of a degree or a non-degree art study program,” Dunn said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Bill would lower cost of annual state-park passes

[Source: Mike Rich, Arizona Republic] -- A bill that would require the Arizona State Parks Board to charge residents 20 percent less than non-residents for their annual state-park passes is working its way through the Legislature. The Arizona Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs passed the bill by a vote of 4-3 and sent it to the Rules Committee. "Residents of the state already pay into the park system through taxes, so they should have to pay less," said Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, author of the bill. Gould said he introduced the bill because his constituents have complained about the growing cost of the passes. The State Parks Board raised its prices on annual passes in January. The price for a standard pass - for residents or non-residents - went from $45 to $50 and the premium pass went from $100 to $125. "My constituents don't think it's fair to pay these high prices when they are already paying into the park system," Gould said. Gould added that if there is in-state and out-of-state tuition at the state's universities, "there is no reason why the same concept should not be applied to state parks." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Event to benefit Wickenburg Historical Society

[Source: Wickenburg Sun] -- The Wickenburg Historical Preservation Society will next month host a book signing and historical presentation by Betty E. Hammer Joy at the Coffinger Park Recreation Building. The event will benefit the Society and will take place Saturday, March 15 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The cost to attend the lecture and catered buffet supper is $22 per person and books will be available to purchase for $18. Joy is the granddaughter of the late Angela Hutchinson Hammer, editor of the Wickenburg Miner in 1905. Joy wrote a book based upon her grandmother’s memoirs entitled “Angela Hutchinson Hammer, Arizona’s Pioneer Newspaperwoman.” Joy will give a short presentation on Wickenburg history, followed by a dinner catered by Darlene Dowdy. Reservations may be made by calling Cindy Thrasher at 684-1529 or by calling Linda Woley at 684-2251. Checks made for reservations or other donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1341, Wickenburg, AZ 85358.

Future of Oro Valley's Steam Pump closer to resolution

[Source: Patrick McNamara, Explorer News] -- The Oro Valley Town Council, last Wednesday, got an early glimpse of estimated preservation and operating costs at the town’s historic Steam Pump Ranch property. As currently envisioned, the restoration alone could top $8.4 million. With that potentially multi-million-dollar restoration effort and hundreds of thousands in annual operating expenses looming, some council members have grown apprehensive about the plans. “What I’m worried about is, how do we control the level of expectations people have and what can we deliver?” Councilman Terry Parish said the day after the meeting.

Answering some of those questions is what the citizen-led group charged with writing a proposal for the council to review and possibly adopt has tried to do since first meeting last August. At the Wednesday council meeting, the group sought guidance from the council on some possible funding options for the site, and to secure council members’ input on different staffing and operations options at the historic residence. “We like to look at master planning as not fixed or set in stone,” said Corky Poster of the architectural firm Poster Frost Associates. The town contracted the company to guide the planning process and draw up the final plan. So far, the plan has the property bisected into two era-specific displays. One half reflects the early years of the ranch, established by German immigrant George Pusch in 1870. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Historic preservation conference set for March 12-14 in New Mexico

[Source: New Mexico Business Weekly] -- The 12th annual historic preservation conference will take place March 12-14 in Taos. The conference, produced by the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance and co-sponsored by the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, teaches participants about methods to preserve historic and cultural sites and resources available for preservation projects. The conference includes 30 workshops and seminars. Themes include preserving history through film, monument preservation, landscaping for historic sites, town revitalization, state parks, and museum exhibit design. A trade show at the Taos Convention Center will offer information on programs and products. For more information, or to register for the event, visit the Alliance Website, or call (505) 989-7745.

History of Prescott airport dates back more than eight decades

[Source: Cindy Barks, Daily Courier] -- Prescott's long and storied aviation past was apparent this past week during a presentation on the history of Ernest A. Love Field Airport. Not only did the city's Historic Preservation Specialist Nancy Burgess offer a report on the 80 years since the first dedication of the Prescott Airport, but a local octogenarian offered a real-life look at how the airport had affected his life. Burgess' presentation took place during the February 13 meeting of the local chapter of the American Aviation Historic Society at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

As Burgess was describing one of the airport's signature events - the staging of a training school for fighter pilots during World War II - one of the audience members, 83-year-old Cal Cohen (pictured), offered to give a first-hand account. "I was here in 1942 for flight training," Cohen told the crowd of more than 75 that gathered for the monthly aviation-oriented program. While he downplayed the training. "Mostly, we chased antelope," he joked, the training obviously helped shape Cohen's future. So much so that some 60 years later, he returned to Prescott as a retiree and has lived in the community for the past five years. Burgess explained that Prescott's airport officially formed in 1928, with a dedication on the prairie-dog-hole-riddled land northeast of Prescott. But, Burgess said, "Prior to that dedication, the Prescott Airport already had a history." As far back as 1913, she said, "there was a need for some kind of landing field in Prescott." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Preservationists work to recognize subdivisions built for blacks

[Source: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press] -- Young, working-class and black, Henry Bolden Jr. was not the kind of person who bought a new house in 1946, even in the North. But Bolden was also a U.S. Army veteran who'd spent World War II driving supply trucks in Belgium and France. With help from the GI Bill, he was able to buy his house in a Columbus neighborhood that was revolutionary in its day: Hanford Village, an enclave of single-family homes marketed solely to blacks. "I would have been stuck, like a lot of other people are still stuck, renting houses in the poor, rundown neighborhoods," said Bolden, who at 82 still lives in the same small house on the city's east side.

Some of the early black homeowner neighborhoods around the country are trying to win historic recognition before their place in the history of homeownership fades. The residents want to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make them eligible for federal tax credits or grants for historic preservation. The designation doesn't protect against demolition but requires anyone involved with a federally funded project, including developers, to take the listing into consideration when the work could endanger the structure. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Dewey-Humboldt Council begins process for assessing property values

[Source: Doug Cook, Daily Courier] -- The Dewey-Humboldt Town Council Tuesday took the first step toward possibly buying nine properties in historic downtown Humboldt. In a 4-1 vote, the council hired Prescott-based appraiser Scott Larsen to determine the value of the approximately 3 acres along Main Street. Mayor Earl Goodwin said the town will pay Larsen between $7,500 to $8,500 for the appraisal, which will require six to eight weeks to complete.

The estate of the late Sal Mennuti owns these properties. Members of the estate are collaborating with Town Attorney Kenton Jones to discuss the town's potential purchase of the lands and its accompanying buildings, which date to the early 1900s. Councilman Floyd Wright, who voted against hiring an appraiser, questioned whether the town could resell the properties even if they were bought at a negotiated price. "Some are wondering if it's within the purview of the council to spend monies on this," Wright said. "Perhaps it should be done through grants with the Humboldt Historical Society." Goodwin disagreed, saying the appraiser's lone job is to determine the value of the properties' buildings based on their location, zoning and condition. A town building official will accompany the appraiser to determine the structures' stability. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Prescott Capital Needs Committee conducts first meeting

[Source: Cindy Barks, Daily Courier] -- From non-profit leaders to former City Council members to small business owners to retirees, the new committee responsible for looking into a possible city bond issue has plenty of diversity. The group, which the city initially tagged the Blue Ribbon Committee, conducted its inaugural meeting Wednesday afternoon at Prescott City Hall. And before the hour-long kick-off meeting ended, the group had not only chosen a chairman, vice chairman and secretary, but had also changed its name and its meeting location.

At 21 members, the group is relatively large, and members were conscious of that when they pushed for a chairman that would keep meetings moving along briskly. Ultimately, members chose United Way Executive Director Tammy Linn to chair the meetings. Bob Weiss of Yavapai Title will serve as vice chairman, while long-time Prescottonian and preservation advocate Elisabeth Ruffner will serve as secretary. The three group leaders were among the appointments that the seven Prescott City Council members made to the committee. After their January goal-setting retreat, council members agreed to form the committee to look into a possible November election for a bond issue to pay for a host of necessary city projects. Each council member made three appointments to the committee, bringing the total to 21. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tucson's old mission gardens spread Arizona's seeds

[Source: Jacqueline A. Soule, Explorer News] -- Last week Arizona celebrated a birthday. On Feb. 14, it celebrated becoming the 48th state in the United States. Accepted in 1912, Arizona isn’t even 100 years old yet. Ironic that Tucson is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the nation. It is close to 4,000 years old. Tucson’s age is based on agricultural remains such as canals, harvesting tools and the like. In her long history, Tucson has had a number of nations claim her, all leaving a mark in one way or another.

In some cases, the culture from here has been exported to the rest of the world. One good example of cultural export is our agriculture. Take the pepper plant. Genetic testing indicates that all peppers are descendants of the blazingly hot wild chiltepene that grows abundantly in the canyons south of town. These peppers were collected by the locals and traded with the ancient traders who spent their lives walking the trade routes. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Fate of famed Phoenix Rock Garden unknown

In the 1920s, at the age of 15, Louis Lee emigrated from China to New York. Eventually, Lee made his way across the country to Phoenix where he lived until his death in the summer of 2006. In 1958, Lee began building things in his front yard, purportedly because he didn't want to bother with a lawn. "He was never much into dirt," according to his son Errol. He started with small rocks but soon added to his creation with bottles, statuary, and other objects. He used rocks gathered from around the area where roads were being cut through the mountains. As Lee’s Rock Garden grew, intrigued neighbors began leaving objects at the edge of Lee’s property hoping he could find use for them in the growing construction.

Lee’s property, once at the outskirts of Phoenix, is now in the middle of an upscale, highly desirable neighborhood. Over the years his neighbors have included Senator Barry Goldwater, Hormel meatpacking company heir Geordie Hormel, and rocker Alice Cooper. On site, yellowing, framed newspaper articles feature luminaries who have visited the Rock Garden, including Goldwater who stands with Lee admiring his handiwork. “Lee’s Oriental Rock Garden” as Lee called it, includes many amenities: a goldfish pond, winding pathways, desert plantings, hand-built tables, chairs, and shrines of all shapes, sizes, and materials.

Asian ceramic elements dominate the landscape, including smiling Buddhas, foo dogs, elephants, and Samarai warriors. Arches and ledges of all shapes and materials are covered with bells, shells, vases, plastic toys, seashells, license plates, empty beer and wine bottles, piggy banks, hubcaps, theater masks, and various other embellishments, all intertwined with Christmas lights that illuminate year-round. From the street, the Lee home is completely obscured by the intricate tiers of the Rock Garden. “My Dad worked on his yard a few hours every day since 1958. Louis Lee kept adding to and caring for his special garden for almost 50 years. With Louis Lee’s death, his family has been trying to find a way to preserve the Rock Garden and Lee’s fantastical legacy. The ultimate fate of this uniquely envisioned and much-loved site is unknown.

Mark your calendar for May 6 to hear Donovan Rypkema

Donovan Rypkema, Principal of Place Economics and well-known speaker on historic preservation issues, will address “The Role of Historic Preservation in Sustainable Development” at a National Historic Preservation Month event on May 6, 2008 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. All advocates for preservation and sustainability are encouraged to attend. To RSVP, contact Kay Jerin (click on name for e-mail or call 602-340-0745) with your name, organization, and day phone. Cost is $50 per person.

This event is sponsored by the Capitol Mall Association in Phoenix with support from the Arizona Preservation Foundation, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona Department of Commerce Main Street Program, and City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Invitation to Aldo Leopold planning discussions

Next year, 2009, marks the centennial of Aldo Leopold’s arrival in the Southwest. In addition, 2009 is the 100th anniversary of Leopold’s “wolf-shooting” incident, a seminal moment in environmental history, described in the essay “Thinking Like a Mountain,” a cornerstone of A Sand County Almanac. That event took place on a mountain near Springerville, Arizona. We are sharing plans and asking for ideas to help develop grassroots events observing Leopold’s role in the Southwest. Numerous organizations are collaborating to call attention to the past, present, and, most vitally, the future of the Leopold legacy: an ethical relationship with the land and the ways in which this relationship helps us meet the challenges of conservation in the 21st century. The Leopold legacy in the Southwest includes the contributions of his wife, Estella Luna Bergere of New Mexico, and two of their five children, Luna and Starker, scientists who have done keystone work on Southwestern water and wildlife.

A two-hour documentary about Leopold is being produced for 2009, and New Mexico groups are well along in developing a year-long series of conferences, exhibits, field trips, symposia, and products. We are holding three meetings for interested individuals in Arizona to plan complementary events in this state. What makes Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac so rich is that it pulls together many different disciplines: philosophy, ecology, history, and literature, among them. That variety suggests many opportunities to create partnerships and community collaborations. In addition, the Hispanic connection provided by Estella’s family, as well as the work of the Leopold children, expands the potential and significance even more widely. There are many unexplored opportunities; we’re hopeful that collective efforts can bring them to fruition.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation has also expressed interest in assisting our efforts. We plan to meet in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, to gather people with ideas and collaborative interests. Each session will begin at 2 p.m. and last approximately two hours:
  • March 17: Flagstaff, NAU Cline Library, Room 200
  • March 18: Phoenix, Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington Street
  • March 19: Tucson, Federal Building, Room 1K, 300 W. Congress Street

Can you join us? At this meeting we will list possible and planned activities, explore their overlap with other plans in the Southwest, consider timelines and possible funding sources, and explore potential partnerships, action items, and marketing ideas. Projects underway or being considered include: teacher institutes, a statewide reading program, watershed restorations, a gubernatorial proclamation, conferences, documentaries, a speakers bureau, and lecture series. Please contact Dan Shilling ( to let us know if you or a representative can attend, or if not, how you might participate in other ways. If you have questions, call Dan at 602-300-6694.

Gary Paul Nabhan, NAU Center for Sustainable Environments
Rita Cantu, U.S. Forest Service
Dan Shilling, ASU Institute for Humanities, Fellow 07-08

Next step in helping to preserve Scottsdale's Kerr Cultural Center

The next important meeting to put on your calendars will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at One Civic Center, 7447 E. Indian School Road, when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote on a conservation easement. Patricia Myers, Chair, and Kathy Howard, Co-chair, of the Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC) hope that a large number of Kerr supporters attend to sign comment cards and speak in favor. The proposal will then go to City Council, date to be determined.

Positive progress is being made to preserve the two historic adobe buildings of the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Although the one-year-old grassroots organization, CCKCC has aggressively pursued Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning from the City of Scottsdale, another designation was proposed and appears to be stronger for protection. It is called a Conservation Easement. In contrast, historic overlay zoning would have had no strength because a state entity has sovereignty that a city cannot usurp.

Meetings to discuss the conservation easement provisions have been held between the city and representatives of Arizona State University, which owns and operates the cultural center. At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission, 11 specific provisions were discussed. The key point has the easement running with the property and will apply to future owners. That means if the Kerr were sold by ASU, the buildings could not be destroyed. However, the easement does not cover the function of the Kerr as a cultural center.

At the February 14 meeting, we asked for more precise provisions: include the usage, include the parking lot, designate length of time of easement coverage and provide for roadway accessibility. These are being presented in a future meeting between the city and ASU.

FYI, a rezoning sign on the property immediately adjacent to the Kerr last year prompted the organizing of CCKCC. The organization now has 500+ signatures in support of the Kerr remaining as a functioning arts center. That rezoning issue (immediately north for condos and an enlarged conference center) is in limbo because the city of Scottsdale asked for changes to the plans, which have not been made. But the rezoning request has not been withdrawn.

Also, ASU restored the adobe exterior and the doors last fall, but no funds were available for interior improvements, hence a benefit event at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 24, with musicians and staff working without pay. Funds from the performance and a silent auction will go toward interior enhancements. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and dessert, coffee and tea, with wine and beer for purchase. Tickets are $65 reserved, $50 general admission. If you are interested in attending this concert of classical, Renaissance, and jazz (Gershwin), call the Kerr at 480-596-2660.

Governor establishes Arizona Centennial Commission

Last week, Governor Janet Napolitano signed an executive order establishing the Arizona Centennial Commission (AZCC). This Commission is charged with planning a year-long celebration of Arizona’s 100th birthday, culminating on Feb. 14, 2012. Although Arizona’s centennial is still four years away, preparations are underway to ensure communities across the Grand Canyon State can enjoy and participate in Centennial celebrations.

AZCC will develop a master plan that contains five major components: generating awareness and engagement by providing a sense of unity and pride among residents; developing participation programs, which include a robust calendar of activities to celebrate the year-long Centennial; implementing educational programs that focus on the state’s past, present and future; collaborating with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission on legacy projects, such as working with communities to highlight their unique historical value; and establishing avenues for resources and funding to encourage and support planning at the state and local level for major projects.

The Arizona Office of Tourism will play a major role in supporting the Commission with implementing many of the programs to be held throughout the state. To assist the Commission in achieving these goals, AOT Assistant Deputy Director Karen Churchard has been assigned to spearhead the strategic planning and development for the Centennial celebrations. Karen’s experience and knowledge as a marketing and special events professional, which includes 22 years with the Fiesta Bowl organization as well as bringing Super Bowl XLII to Arizona, will benefit the effort.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Parks to use Internet to show off wildflowers

[Source: B. Poole, Tucson Citizen] -- Park rangers will use the Internet to help travelers decide whether wildflower views are worth a trip, according to an Arizona State Parks news release. When the blooms start, rangers across the state will post photos of flower hot spots, giving potential visitors a preview. The photos will be updated regularly and combined with other park information to aid travelers, the release said. Healthy winter rain has Picacho Peak sprouting a potentially spectacular bloom, said Picacho Peak State Park Manager Rob Young. In 2001 - the area's last great flower year, Picacho got 5.77 inches of rain from September to January, a key period for the best germination. This year it was 5.4 inches, Young said. Blooms could start as late as early March if the weather stays cool or sooner if weather is warmer, the release said. [Photo source: Kenneth Sharrocks.]

Citizens weigh in on proposed Depot market in Tucson

Developer, foes clash over planned Depot market [Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- City, state and federal historical preservation guidelines differ from those of people passionate about the downtown Historic Depot, 400 E. Toole Ave. Government keepers of historic qualities see no problems with Hotel Congress owner Richard Oseran's plan to fill the depot lobby with a neighborhood market. Friends of the Historic Depot are aghast at the thought of converting the space from wooden benches and ticket counters to 4-foot high glass cases with cheeses, fruits, juices, salads, baked breads, bandages and aspirin - things you might have forgotten to buy at the supermarket, Shana Oseran said. Richard Oseran and his architect, Bob Vint, both champions of historic preservation, faced off with depot Friends Wednesday at the Tucson-Pima Historical Commission. The commission hosted an informal presentation of Oseran's ideas for Maynards' Market and Maynards' Kitchen to allow Friends of the Depot to have a say.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Bob Vint, Vint & Associates Architects - Rendering of the interior proposed for the Depot.]

Don't thwart progress at depot; market needed here (op-ed) [Source: Tucson Citizen] -- The opposition to a proposed market in the downtown Historic Depot is ill-conceived on multiple levels:

  • The state Historic Preservation Office finds no problems with the market plans, so concerns that it would disrupt the depot lobby's historic integrity clearly are unfounded.

  • The market would be removable, using only portable cases not affixed to walls or floors.

  • The enterprise would offer cheeses, fruits, baked goods, aspirin and other items that would make train travelers' wait times more pleasant.

  • Because Amtrak runs only one train a day through Tucson, six days a week, only 40 to 60 passengers use the station each day. The lobby isn't exactly teeming with such crowds that the market couldn't be accommodated.

Yet opposition to the venture became quite vocal last week, another example of the roadblocks to change that do not serve our city well. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Developer to renovate Phoenix's historic Luhrs sites

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] -- An Irvine, Calif., developer will save the iconic Luhrs Building and Luhrs Tower (pictured), but the fate of other vintage buildings on the downtown Phoenix block is up in the air. Hansji Urban inherited a 1992 agreement from the previous owner that gives the firm the right to tear down some structures, including parts of the oldest building on the block, the Luhrs Central Building on Central Avenue and Madison, which was constructed between 1913 and 1914, said Barbara Stocklin Phoenix's historic preservation officer. The 1950s parking garage and the one-story 1920s arcade linking the Luhrs Tower and the Luhrs Building are also in question. While many were relieved when they learned the Luhrs Tower and the Luhrs Building are to be restored, it's been unclear what would happen to the rest of the structures on the block.

There have been several historic-preservation fights in downtown Phoenix recently. City officials and the developer are negotiating a plan for the area bound by Jefferson Street, Madison Street, Central Avenue and First Avenue. The plan could go before the city's historic-preservation commission as early as March 17, Stocklin said. It's too early to say what buildings could stay or go, said Hansji Urban principal Raj Hansji. "Our focus now is still on the office component - the Luhrs Building, the Luhrs Tower and the arcade - (and) renovating those buildings because we have some tenants who want to start moving in pretty quickly," he said. Now the firm plans to spend $6 million upgrading the Luhrs complex.

"Our goal, obviously, long-term is to build a hotel, but that's not our focus right now," Hansji added. Meanwhile, preservationists are keeping an eye on the project. "The Arizona Preservation Foundation is very much interested in the preservation and reuse of historic and vintage buildings in our capital city and across the state," said Jim McPherson, an Arizona Preservation Foundation board member. The group plans to take a formal position after conferring with community groups and city officials, he added. The Luhrs block was built by a pioneer-era Phoenix clan. The patriarch, German immigrant George Heinrich Nicholas Luhrs, built the 10-story Luhrs Building in 1924 and he broke ground on the 14-story Luhrs Tower in 1929.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ubiquitous Tucson ranch houses gain historic cachet

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] -- Tucson grew up, or rather out, after World War II as the desert was carved into lots and filled with houses that, by and large, had the same basic design. Pour a rectangular slab, sometimes deviating into an L or a U. Stack some block or brick for walls. Cover it and the attached carport with a low-slung roof built atop wooden beams or trusses. Call it a "ranch" — a type of residential construction developed in California that swept across the country as a newly mobile middle class created American suburbia. The ranch had big windows front and back, often with sliding-glass doors inviting an outside-living style. It had a rambling, adaptable interior.

In its many variations, the ranch seemed perfect for the desert lifestyle — especially in fall and spring when the warming sun heated its blocks and kept inhabitants cozy through the mild nights. In winter and summer, with little insulation, it was another story, but, hey, energy was cheap. Just crank up the furnace or that new-fangled central air conditioner. Those were the days when gas stations had price wars, and you could cruise Speedway all night with the pocket change you lifted from your father's dresser caddy. That all changed in the '70s. The energy crisis put a premium on the well-insulated home. Land costs dictated smaller lots and more compact housing footprints. The single carport gave way to the two-car garage. The era of the ranch house passed. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Globe Historic Home Tour shows off century-old buildings

[Source: Martin Cizmar, Tribune] -- If there’s one thing Ellen Kretsch thinks people took away from last weekend’s Globe Historic Home Tour, it’s that they don’t build ’em like they used to. The four historic houses on this year’s tour weren’t “mansions, by any means,” she says, but they’re still solid after a century. “The fact that they’re still here 100 years later, that 100 years later they’re still in great shape — though they’ve had some work done — I think that says a lot about the workmanship, compared to what you might find in some homes now,” she says. “The workmanship is just unbelievable.”Kretsch, executive director of the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, says tour organizers try to find different houses every year. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

March 1 is deadline for 2008 National Preservation Awards nominations

[Source: Phx Downtown Voices] -- Each year the National Trust for Historic Preservation celebrates the best of preservation by presenting National Preservation Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate excellence in historic preservation. You are invited to nominate a deserving individual, organization, agency, or project for a National Preservation Award. The deadline for nominations for all awards is March 1, 2008. Those nominations not selected to receive a Trustees, ACHP, or HUD Award are automatically considered for an Honor Award. Click here to download the nomination form from the National Trust’s website. If you have questions or need additional information about the awards or the nomination process, contact Caroline Healey by email or 202-588-6236.

Good ol' days showcased in Historic Florence

[Source: Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder] -- With only his hands-free walkie talkie interfering with his old-time proprietor's attire, Bruce Woodmansee tells home tour visitors about his family's work to restore the historic Mandell Department Store during the 23rd Annual Tour of Historic Florence last Saturday. The family, which owns and operates True Value Hardware, is considering opening an ice cream and sandwich shop in the Mandell building. The Woodmansees' restoration included plumbing the building for a potential restaurant, and saving the original woodwork as much as possible.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Go underground at Kartchner Caverns

[Source: Scott Craven, Arizona Republic] -- Midway around a curve the tram comes to a stop. Visitors listen to the twitter of birds on the desert slope before a voice comes over the intercom. "And to your left is the original entrance," the female voice says. "Just beyond the fence." Few would agree with the term "entrance." It's far too grand for a crack in the ground that is barely visible even if you know exactly where to look. In fact, only two people gave it more than a passing notice in the centuries people roamed these hills in the Sonoran Desert about 50 miles southeast of Tucson.

And that discovery in 1974 by spelunkers Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen would lead to an underground labyrinth that now attracts visitors from all over the world. The tram hums back to life and continues to a more tourist-friendly entrance to Kartchner Caverns. Visitors hop out for the short walk to the vaultlike door set into the cliff of the Whetstone Mountains. Beyond it is the man-made tunnel leading to one of the world's most incredible sights. Thousands trek each year to this park south of Benson to tour its intricate underground world. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

City of Sedona gambling with its Arizona Heritage Fund grant

[Source:] -- The Sedona Cultural Park may have closed its doors five years ago, but it's ghost is alive and well in the guise of the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park and Pavilion. Plans to plop a geodesic dome in the midst of a recreational overbuilt Posse Ground Park (populated with 16 various courts, fields, underutilized teen center, dog park, swimming pool, elementary school and unregulated skateboard park bordered by two of Sedona’s longest established neighborhoods and one exclusive and relatively new subdivision) are moving along rapidly with the help of the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The matching grant of $586,600 was awarded to the City of Sedona for fiscal year 1995-1996 and, in turn, given to the non-profit organization responsible for establishing and maintaining the Sedona Cultural Park project. However, the City neglected to protect its interest by securing the grant in the event that the Cultural Park defaulted (and when it did, the City had no recourse). Included in this grant were; a two level amphitheatre, site preparation, sod, stage utilities, tree preservation, landscaping irrigation, fencing, lighting, ticket area, picnic/shade ramadas, tables and benches, restrooms, roads, lights, sewer, potable water, gas, electric, telephone and signage. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Construction finally starts on Wickenburg bypass

[Source: Wickenburg Sun] -- Construction is scheduled to begin this week on the Wickenburg Interim Bypass, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. The project will provide a new roadway that avoids the historic downtown, following the west bank of the Hassayampa River. When completed, the new roadway will divert regional traffic from the Wickenburg Way/Tegner Street intersection, relieving congestion and improving traffic flow on US 93 and US 60. The project will include constructing two roundabouts, a new roadway embankment that will provide flood protection to adjacent properties, and new bridges across the Hassayampa River and Sols Wash. Landscaping and other aesthetic features will be installed at the new entrance to the historic district, creating a unique, inviting gateway to Wickenburg. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tucson's murals enliven public spaces

[Source: Suli Yi, VOA News] -- The city of Tucson, Arizona is known for its murals. These wall-size works of art represent a traditional Chicano art form and reflect the city's large Mexican-American population. Some paintings celebrate the community's cultural identity, while others document their lives and struggles. For producer Yi Suli, Elaine Lu has more on the murals of Tucson.

In Tucson, murals are everywhere: in museums, on the walls of schools and restaurants. David Tineo has created more than 200 murals all over Tucson. He says it is in his blood. "We come across many generations. We are proud of who we are. We come here to the United States. This is our heritage." Alfred Quiroz, a professor of arts at the University of Arizona, says the Chicano community's roots inspire artists like Tineo. "I would say David is probably a very traditional Chicano muralist who valued a lot with family, southwest tradition, some of the folklore of the southwestern traditions," he said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

City to prioritize Lake Havasu improvements; State cuts may eliminate some projects

[Source: John Rudolf, Havasu News] -- Hundreds of thousands of boaters visit Lake Havasu every year, making the lake the busiest waterway in Arizona. All those boating hours also add up to a whole lot of gasoline sales — and gas taxes for the state. To give some of those funds back, the state created a special funding program for lake improvements, that provides cash for public safety, recreation and other needs. Funding is on a project-by-project basis, and varies from year-to-year, but Lake Havasu is typically the state’s largest recipient of the monies. Yet with a state budget crunch threatening to cut into state parks funding for projects on Lake Havasu, Gov. Napolitano and leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees have indicated that they would cut those funds to make up for the current budget deficit.

With that grim prospect on the horizon, the City Council will weigh at their next meeting the priority level of four lake improvement projects, with the possibility that funding may not exist for all four. Once priority is established, the council will vote to advance the proposals to the Arizona State Parks board. The first of the projects is to dredge the shoreline adjacent to Rotary Park and the Bridgewater Channel. City staff said the project is important because erosion and silting are creating navigation hazards. Another application would ask for an additional $1.4 million to build infrastructure at the proposed mainland boat launch ramp at Contact Point. The city previously secured about $420,000 for the project in 2005. Two other projects would provide funds for fire and rescue functions, and police enforcement in the Channel area.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source:]

4th annual Modern Phoenix home tour and expo coming April 5th and 6th

[Source: Modern Phoenix] -- The box office is now open for the Modern Phoenix Home Tour and Expo 2008! The Progress + Preservation event spotlights the urgent need to practice mid-century modern design preservation while also honoring the independent spirits that create contemporary design in Phoenix. This weekend event will juxtapose local attitudes and approaches toward both Midcentury Modern and Contemporary architecture and design. We'll take the dialogue between past and present to the next level by bringing together a dynamic mix of creative personalities in a variety of stimulating venues. Please join Modern Phoenix for this one-of-a-kind event in Village Grove of Scottsdale, AZ. Tickets now available at 480-994-ARTS [2787]. Saturday April 5 is the expo and seminars. Sunday April 6 is the home tour in Village Grove. Click here for a full weekend itinerary.

Tucson's Depot market plan hits a snag

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- Hotel Congress owner Richard Oseran's plan to put a market in the restored lobby of the downtown Historic Depot has run into opposition. Oseran proposes an eatery for the former Central Bistro space to the right of the lobby and a market in about 2,000 square feet of the lobby, now occupied by four benches and a ticket counter. But the Friends of the Historic Depot frown upon converting the lobby into a market, said Ken Karrels, chairman of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum and a member of the group. "We're not opposing so much as proposing an alternative place," Karrels said. "Why take away this beautiful historic treasure when you could leave it alone and retain it?" Karrels suggests putting the market in the former Railway Express Agency baggage room to the left of the lobby.

Oseran's plans for Maynard's Market come before the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission at noon Wednesday in the conference room next to the City Council Chambers, 255 W. Alameda St., with no action to be taken. Oseran's plan has the approval of the State Historic Preservation Office, said commission Chairwoman Teresita Majewski. Majewski said all aspects of Oseran's proposal may not be understood. "The whole thing is OK because it's all reversible," Majewski said. "Absolutely," Oseran said. "It could be put back exactly to its 1940s splendor. We're not touching the floors or walls." Oseran said the market would not interfere with the Amtrak or rental car counters at the left end of the lobby. The City Council gave the depot space to Oseran rent-free through 2011 instead of paying for tenant improvements in the city-owned depot, 400 E. Toole Ave. [Photo source: Groundspeak Inc.]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ancient land in northeast Arizona provides modern-day example of sustainable tourism

[Source: Travel Video Television News] -- Several of the tenets of sustainable tourism – reuse, restore and preserve – are clearly exemplified in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, an ancient land in northeastern Arizona. The nearly 84,000 acres that comprise Canyon de Chelly are located on the Navajo Reservation and jointly operated by the Navajo Nation and the National Park Service. Here, an entire culture is being preserved, and visitors are encouraged to visit the land lightly. Examples include a century-old building still being used; vehicles built more than 50 years ago still provide motorized tours, but are now powered by clean-burning propane; and the majority of wares in a gift shop are produced locally by highly skilled artisans. “Our own brand of sustainable tourism is a devotion to preserving the environment by focusing on the integrity of our local culture as well as minimizing the adverse effects of tourism on the natural environment,” said Mary Jones, owner and operator of the Thunderbird Lodge, the only concessioner in the monument. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Post-war suburban houses are found to be worth preserving

[Source: The Economist] -- The neighbourhood around Hoffman Park, five miles (8km) east of downtown Tucson, resembles a thousand others in the West. One-storey houses erected in the late 1940s and early 1950s sit behind scrubby gardens. Most are built of brick and roofed with asphalt. In some streets, mailboxes line the curb. A perfectly ordinary suburb—and, if the city gets its way, a future historic district. History is not, perhaps, the first thing that springs to mind in Tucson. Although it was founded in the 18th century, the city took shape after the second world war. Thanks to big employers, such as Hughes Aircraft, its population almost doubled between 1950 and 1960. Because land was so cheap, modest houses were built on large plots. Up to 3,000 houses a year were being built, luring buyers with models blessed with such names as the Monarch, the Savoy and the Windsor. Formica countertops, fitted carpets and coloured bathroom fixtures were commonly included in the price.

In general, a building needs to be at least 50 years old before it can be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Owners can choose to pay lower taxes in exchange for not adjusting their properties too much. Since Tucson grew so quickly in the 1950s, potential candidates for the register have mushroomed in the past few years. To help decide which ones to preserve first, the city has commissioned a study that identifies distinctive building and landscaping styles. Among them are such obscure inventions as the Tucson ranch house (wide and low-slung, with a white roof) and the “enhanced desert” garden, an improbable mixture of native cacti, flowering perennials and a little grass. Jonathan Mabry, the city's historic-preservation officer, explains that Tucson wants to protect buildings from being torn down and replaced with “mini-dorms”—cheaply made structures rented to students at the University of Arizona. The city also hopes historic districts will foster a sense of community, which can be lacking in such a young, fast-growing place.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic.]

Questioning Sedona's Barbara Antonsen memorial park concept (op-ed)

[Source: M.R.,] -- As a Sedona resident I am curious about what has happened between the time the Friends of the Posse Grounds first approached the city with the idea of "restoring the historic stage and surrounding landscape" with a "small park for families and friends," to what it has morphed into today. There is no resemblance between what was originally presented for 100+ people or presented in article after article through 2005-2006 on their website, and what this project has turned into (700+ person venue). Question for the incumbents and candidates - why has this happened? They need to reverse this decision to its original intent, but will they? Another point to call all candidates' attention to would be the proposed use of the Arizona State Parks grant money toward the funding of Barbara's Park. Using any of those funds would be breaking the conditions of the Public - Private agreement that the city entered into with the Friends of the Posse Grounds on 5/24/2005.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photos: original rendering of the park (top); current rendering (bottom).]

Mesa furniture store set for transformation

[Source: David Woodfill, Tribune] -- Brian Thune's view on downtown Mesa is similar to his perspective on his 88-year-old building housing his furniture store - all it needs is a vision and hard work to reach its true potential. Thune, who owns the historic Drew Building at 37 W. Main St., with his wife, Cheri, is taking the two-story structure in a new direction starting with the closure of his 10-year-old furniture business on the bottom floor. In its place could potentially be an 8,000-square-foot restaurant with a 2,000-square-foot kitchen, as well as nine modern-looking extended-stay hotel units ranging in price from $95 to $150 a night on the second floor. The Thunes are working to place the two-story structure on the National Register of Historic Places. Thune said the units will provide comfortable lodgings for traveling business professionals, including baseball players here for spring training. In the long term, he said he hopes they will appeal to tourists visiting downtown Mesa. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Friday, February 08, 2008

Historic Florence homes open their doors for 2008 home tour

[Source: Daniel Dullum, Casa Grande Valley Newspaper] -- Every stop on the 23rd annual Tour of Historic Florence has its own unique history, and the Truman-Randall House (pictured) is no exception. The original owner, Pinal County Sheriff W.C. Truman, became a celebrity when he and his posse were credited with the capture of notorious stagecoach robbers Pearl Hart and Joe Boot in 1899. The second owner, Dr. Wallace Randall, was well known not only in Florence but throughout the state of Arizona. His murder in 1922 was front-page news and is still the subject of debate and speculation. The Truman-Randall House, currently owned by attorney Michael Villarreal, can be viewed as part of the Tour of Historic Florence on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The self-guided tour begins at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, 291 N. Bailey St. in downtown Florence.

It's the first time since 1993 that the Truman-Randall House has been on the tour. "Personally, I'm really excited about it because I've never been in there, and because of all the history with Sheriff Truman and Dr. Randall," H. Christine Reid, Pinal County Historical Museum public relations director, said. "I drive by that house all the time and I've always wanted to see what it looks like inside. From the articles I've read from when the house was on the tour many years ago, it looks just beautiful, so we'll be in for a treat." During the Tour of Historic Florence, visitors will have an opportunity to tour private homes and public and commercial buildings featuring various architectural styles, including Sonoran, Early Transitional, Late Transitional, American Victorian, American Bungalow and Mission Revival. Some buildings on the tour date back to the 1870s and 1880s, when Florence was the hub of activity for area silver mines, ranches and farms. The oldest structure on the tour is the Chapel of the Gila, 306 E. Eighth St. Built in 1870, Chapel of the Gila is also central Arizona's oldest church. While mentioning recent home tours held in Mesa and Gilbert, Reid said, "These other towns don't have what we have. Very few towns other than Tucson and a few other places have the Sonoran row houses, adobe houses and commercial adobes.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Town of Florence.]

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yuma park goes down wrong path (op-ed)

[Source: Howard J. Blitz, Yuma Sun] -- Over the years, one has heard the cry that if government did not provide the goods or services in question, then the goods or services would never be made available. That idea has been promulgated so much that it now extends to practically everything that is discussed. Whether it is a local sports arena, professional sports stadium, health care, global warming or even providing for one's retirement, the song continues to be sung that if government does not do it, then it will never materialize. Last week, in The Sun it was reported that a $600,000 grant from Arizona State Parks Department was added to an equal amount provided by both the city of Yuma and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in order to begin work on the Quechan Nature Park to transform 10 acres of rough and overgrown land into a well-developed addition to the Yuma East Wetlands.

The park will be located on tribal land just east of the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge along the Colorado River. There is no question that the park project will allow for the development of additional recreational opportunities for many individuals and will satisfy environmental and economic needs for the Yuma and Winterhaven communities. The amphitheater, park ramadas and irrigated grass will make the area very pleasing to the eye, as will the resulting landscaping. The end result in any project, as this one, is not in question. Unfortunately, however, what is usually not debated and rarely discussed, but rather automatically assumed, is how this or any other aforementioned project is to be achieved. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

HP staff, Council Member tour Phoenix Indian School

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- Historic Preservation (HP) and Arizona State Parks staff led Council Member Tom Simplot on a tour of the three historic buildings at Phoenix Indian School (Steele Indian School Park) to discuss their rehabilitation progress to date, funding availability to complete rehabilitation work, and possible use options. The Memorial Hall rehabilitation (pictured) for an assembly/performing space should be completed in late spring 2008, with only stabilization and critical work completed on the Band Building and Dining Hall to date. A permit is in place to complete restoration of the exteriors of Dining Hall, and some funding is secured for the Band Building although no plans have yet been developed. HP and Parks staff are working with EAS to evaluate options for moving rehabilitation work forward on the Dining Hall and Band Buildings.

Quechans funded to finish Yuma nature park

[Source: Darin Fenger, Yuma Sun] -- With the recent receipt of a $600,000 grant, work is expected to begin soon on the Quechan Nature Park that will transform 10 acres of rough and overgrown land into a well-developed addition to the Yuma East Wetlands. Arizona State Parks issued the grant, which joins an existing $600,000 in the kitty to fund the project. Those original funds come from the city of Yuma and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. The park will be on tribal land, starting just east of the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge and following the Colorado River. Brian Golding Sr., director of the Quechan Indian Tribe's Economic Development Administration, stressed how the park will be good for people on both sides of the river. "It's really going to be an exciting opportunity for both the tribal and Yuma communities in developing addition recreational opportunities along the river, a place we're trying to mutually re-establish and focus upon for recreational, environmental and economic development needs."

The Quechan Nature Park will feature 4.5 acres of heavily developed land, which will offer an amphitheater, park ramadas and irrigated grass. The rest will be restored to a more natural and native state, but then left less disturbed. That latter land will boast a network of paths. Golding said construction will likely start in April or May, pushing toward completion in October or November. He added that the Quechan Nature Park will fit in nicely with restoration and development work already finished or going on along the river. He pointed to nearby Gateway Park as just one example. The land involved in Quechan Nature Park, although part of Yuma East Wetlands, will remain part of the tribe's reservation and under tribal control. In addition to sharing the land with the restoration vision, the Quechan Indian Tribe also contributed the time and talents of Golding and another staff member. Both he and Allyson Collins, an economic development specialist, have contributed a great deal of time during the planning stages of Quechan Nature Park. [Photo source: Terry Ketron, Yuma Sun.]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Still hope for Tucson's Ghost Ranch project

[Source: Josh Brodesky and Erica Meltzer, Daily Star] -- For several years now, the Ghost Ranch Lodge has sat empty, its cactus garden and historic buildings sealed off by chain-link fencing. Instead of being a monument to Tucson's history, the lodge, on West Miracle Mile near North Oracle Road, became a monument to stagnation. The abandoned inn was supposed to be turned into quality, low-cost housing for the elderly. The project never came to fruition, as the non-profit developer, Development Design Group, buckled under the financial strain that comes with mismanagement and infighting. But the property is now under new ownership. Mesa-based developer Mark Breen purchased it last summer, and his group, Atlantic Development, has plans to follow through on the conversion to affordable housing for the elderly. The city has money set aside to support the project, and on Tuesday the Pima County Board of Supervisors will consider sending a letter to the state Department of Housing, asking the state to support the new developer. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Grijalva bids anew to preserve Tucson landmark

[Source: Erica Meltzer, Daily Star] -- U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva has reintroduced legislation to protect Tumamoc Hill from development, even as Pima County moves forward with an attempt to buy the land at auction from the state Land Department with the same goal in mind. The legislation would transfer 2,500 acres on the Southeast Side to the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, and 160 acres near Saguaro National Park West would become part of the park. In exchange, the developer that controls those parcels would get 1,280 acres of federal land near Sahuarita and would pay the state Land Department the appraised value of Tumamoc Hill. Tumamoc Hill then would be transferred to Pima County for conservation. The legislation also requires the developer to go through standard environmental protection measures on the land near Sahuarita, a step waived in other versions of the legislation. This is Grijalva's third attempt to get legislation preserving Tumamoc through the Congress.

The Arizona Democrat said he believes the political climate in Congress is more open now to environmental legislation, and he plans to use his position as chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee to ensure the bill gets a hearing. Grijalva said the legislation is important because it conserves three important parcels while maintaining environmental protections on land that will be developed. He said it was important to remove any uncertainty around the future of Tumamoc. "This is a really important issue for the people in the urban area," Grijalva said. "It's there, and we need to make sure it stays there." A spokesman for Diamond Ventures, which controls the private parcels in question, said the company had just received the legislation and would respond in a few days.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Dean Knuth, Daily Star. Paul Fish, curator of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum, stands near the area of the proposed land exchange, which would protect Tumamoc Hill from development.]

Monday, February 04, 2008

Canal signage gives passers-by history

[Source: Kristina Parma, East Valley Tribune] -- Strollers along portions of the Valley’s canal system now have the opportunity to learn a little history. Salt River Project has begun installing a series of interpretive signs, which will run from Phoenix to Scottsdale along state canals, said SRP spokesman Jeffrey Lane. He said there will be 24 signs installed over an 18-month period. The signs are aimed at educating the public about the history of the canals, said SRP analyst Jim Duncan. “Each sign conveys historic information about what used to be here and how things have changed,” Duncan said. The series will cost about $100,000 for design, fabrication and installation, he said. The canal system is part of the Valley’s history, Lane said. He said it has been around for almost a century.

The first canals were made by the Hohokam people and they were smaller and built by hand, Lane said “The canals we have today are much larger, but they follow roughly the same contours,” he said. The project is a joint venture between SRP and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as well as the state Historic Preservation Office, Duncan said. The first two signs were installed in Mesa and Gilbert, respectively, Lane said. A third sign was put in last Wednesday along the Western Canal in Tempe. The next sign is set to be installed on the South Bank at 64th Street. Duncan said the interpretive sign in Mesa was the first one installed and was put about one-quarter mile west of Horne Road in February. The sign in Gilbert was added in the spring about one-half mile south of Guadalupe Road, Duncan said. The next series of signs will be installed in Tempe over the next two weeks, Lane said.

2008 Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month celebration

[Source: Arizona State Parks] -- For the entire month of March 2008, the Arizona State Parks State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is coordinating activities throughout the state for its annual celebration of Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month. The highlight of Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month is the Archaeology Expo at the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona in Tucson on March 1-2, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. Both days are open to the public and admission to the Expo is free. The Expo offers many attractions for those interested in archaeology and history. More than 35 special displays and booths by archaeological and historical organizations, museums, Native American tribes, state and federal agencies, and others will allow you to participate as an archaeologist might in their research today, or make crafts that teach how prehistoric Native Americans survived in the Southwest, or play games like the historic settlers did. Living history re-enactors, Native American demonstrators and entertainers, interactive activities, and tours of archaeology laboratories and museum collection areas and exhibits will help make the past come alive! In addition, tours of local prehistoric and historic archaeological sites will be featured.

Free raffles featuring prizes of archaeology-related items will occur throughout both days. Ethnic foods will be available for purchase. The Expo will give visitors new insights into Arizona's many prehistoric, historic, and contemporary cultures. Arizona State Museum is located on the University of Arizona campus at 1013 E. University Blvd. in Tucson. Click here for directions and parking information. For a detailed listing of all the events for the 2008 Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month, call (602) 542-4174 or click here. The Archaeology Expo is sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Arizona State Parks, and the Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission. Many other partners will be joining together to present a varied Expo format offering two days of educational, hands-on archaeology programs to the public.

Phoenix homeowner brings Tudor into the light

[Source: Susan Felt, Arizona Republic] -- Vicki Vanderhoff had pined for one of the Tudor Revivals that dot the streets in the Willo Historic District where she lived. When the home in the central Phoenix neighborhood (pictured) went on the market, she was among the first to tour it. Since she was a child, she had admired its steep roof, perhaps the steepest pitch in the neighborhood of 70- to nearly 90-year-old English Tudors, Spanish Revivals, bungalows and early ranches. The home on West Monte Vista Road charmed her with its classic lines, the casement windows in the living room, the cove ceilings, the rich, dark hardwood floors and the spaciousness. But she was disheartened by its darkness. For all the beauty of the original paned windows in the front rooms, the home's midsection was dark.

But Vanderhoff, a real-estate agent, saw possibility where some saw just walls, small rooms and tiny kitchen windows. The solution was simple: Eliminate the wall between the kitchen and dining room. In addition, Vanderhoff decided to flip the two rooms, putting the kitchen where the dining room was. She lined the new dining-room wall with casement windows and a glass door that opened onto the spacious side yard; another of this home's pluses was its extra-large lot. Light floods into the once-dark center of this home. "I always knew I could open the room. It was all about bringing the light into the house," Vanderhoff says. She also wanted to preserve the integrity of the home's period - the residence was built in 1929, and she is its fourth owner - while creating a clean, contemporary look. She haunted vintage stores and Web sites for period lamps and hardware. She resisted purists who cringed at the notion of painting the molding around the windows and doors. Vanderhoff wanted a light feel, and that meant painting the dark wood trim white in most rooms.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Republic.]